May 12, 2008
To whom it may concern:
The revitalization of the city of Albany should not be the burden of City officials and tax payers alone. The local business community needs to share the social and financial responsibilities of continuing to make Albany a wonderful place to live, work and recreate. The Fort Orange Club of downtown Albany has developed a member approved Comprehensive Plan to accomplish just that. This plan will provide immense economic, aesthetic and historic benefits that will aid in the vitality and growth of the local community. The plan further demonstrates the Fort Orange Club’s commitment to enhancing the lifestyle of Albany residents as well as setting an example of how the local business community can play an important role in the success of preserving Albany’s storied history and promoting the architectural significance of the City of Albany.
The Fort Orange Club Streetscape design and implementation is part of the overall Master Plan that adopts a comprehensive and integrated approach toward the design of the new addition and long overdue improvements to the existing Fort Orange Club. This improvement initiative is part of a long-term and coordinated effort towards the upgraded athletic facility that is over 2 decades behind the times and necessary for the long-term survival of the Club. The almost quarter of a million dollar budget for the Streetscape enhancements along Washington Avenue will stand as a model of what other developers and landowners should consider when making modifications that impact land use parallel to a city street. When completed, the new addition to the Club and enhancements will result in showcasing the historic Fort Orange Club and become one of the City of Albany's treasures for years to come.
The bullets below will provide the outlined specifications of the Fort Orange Club Comprehensive Plan and detail how the City of Albany will benefit from the plan’s acceptance.
1. Comprehensive Plan
- Total anticipated cost of the overall Comprehensive Plan is $4,750,000.
- The main Club House will be significantly upgraded with new electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.(at a cost of approximately $ 1 million)
- There will be an enlarged and upgraded athletic wing providing additional up-to-date recreational facilities to attract future members from the younger business professional community.
- The removal of 120 Washington Avenue and reconfigured parking is only a small part of the overall Comprehensive Plan.
- There is a pressing need to have adequate parking in order to be economically viable and to service the current 600 members and their guests. Presently, there are many days throughout the year that the current Fort Orange Club parking is inadequate. The University Club, situated in the same general neighborhood, has suffered due to inadequate parking.
- Representatives of the Fort Orange Club visited the Buffalo Club (Buffalo) and Genesee Valley Club (Rochester), both of which underwent similar upgrades of their clubhouses and added new recreational facilities. In each case, these clubs have experienced strong growth in membership and utilization of club facilities following their expansions. It should be noted that both Buffalo and Rochester economics are weaker than Albany’s.
- There will be an expanded driveway, with room for two cars (in/out) vs. only one car width now.
- Presently, there are many days that the parking lot is full. As a result, cars will often back out into traffic on Washington Avenue causing hazardous conditions.
- The wider driveway entrance and reconfigured parking will help alleviate the congestion, thereby improving safety on Washington Avenue.
- A sentry house will be added to have a person near Washington Avenue to oversee traffic flow and parking.
- The Streetscape will be attractively designed with iron wrought fencing, stone work and professional landscaping adding to the beauty of the immediate community and enhancing the overall green space appeal of The Fort Orange Club.
- Architectural elements will be of the highest quality and will play off the elegant themes of iron and stone used throughout the city.
- The view of the streetscape, with depth of The Fort Orange property, will open up to a view consisting of beautiful church steeples on State Street.
- Almost a quarter of a million dollars will be invested on the Streetscape alone setting a positive precedent for enhanced sheltering of parking within the City of Albany.
4. Historic Preservation
- The Fort Orange Club dates back 128 years and its Club House, originally a residence, is 197 years old.
- The Lamplighters Foundation (501c3) was recently established to not only preserve our historic building, but to also promote the history and architecture of the City of Albany. As of this date, the foundation has raised $250,000.
- The Fort Orange Club is one of Albany’s most noteworthy institutions, with over 600 members, who possess both long term and historic connections within the City of Albany’s businesses, educational institutions, professional firms, cultural organizations, and government.
- Preserving and nurturing Albany’s storied history, attractive look, and its overall vibrancy has and always will remain an essential mission of the Fort Orange Club.
5. Benefits to the City of Albany
- This Comprehensive Plan will likely result in a higher property assessment in the future due to the expanded athletic wing at the rear of the property, thus leading to higher property tax income for the City.
- A wider driveway and expanded parking situation at The Fort Orange Club will alleviate the current problem of incoming traffic backing up onto Washington Avenue. The diluting of this congestion will improve the safety conditions on Washington Avenue.
- This high quality and elegant design will add to the beauty and attraction of downtown Albany.
Successful organizations plan for their future by utilizing a Comprehensive Plan addressing the needs of its members, in order to ensure and maximize future success. We feel that by pursuing this Comprehensive Plan, The Fort Orange Club will be able to best achieve the goal of ensuring a successful future as well as continue to play an important, valuable and lasting role within the bright future of the City of Albany. Adding value and pride to the urban living of the Albany experience will attract younger business professionals, which will in turn enhance the overall downtown environment. The benefit of these improvements greatly outweighs keeping an older and inefficient building.